Here’s a 4/20 adventure for you — discovering the growing trend of cannabis and craft chocolate. [[WARNING: KEEP ALL THC INFUSED GOODIES AWAY FROM CHILDREN!!]] When you hear pot and chocolate, do your thoughts quickly slip to the magic brownies of yore? Cast those old conceptions away. Since the Farmers Bill of 2018 made CBD legal, and more and more states legalizing THC, pot has grown up. And, so has chocolate. Both industries have grown in such a manner that both have high end products that connoisseurs enjoy, in a similar fashion to wine tastings. Would you like to know how to conduct a chocolate tasting with products infused with CBD and/or THC? It’s simple, but it’s not…
Chocolate with what?
First, let me tell you that my “spirit animal” is the cacao bean. This magical fruit has led me on many adventures. Last year, as a lark, I tried my first chocolate bar bought at a dispensary. While the chocolate itself was very tasty, I learned I am not much of a THC person. (THC, in case you didn’t know, is the part of marijuana that gets you high). However, in my quest to learn more about this trend, I did try a piece of grön chocolate that had no THC, but 50mg of CBD. (If you’re wondering about CBD, check out “What is CBG? Meet Glinda the Good Weed.”) The chocolate was well made. I have to admit, it helped me with some anxiety (a combination of the classic entrepreneur “imposter syndrome” mixed with the onslaught of Covid-19).
Side note: I am not promoting CBD to cure any health issues. I am just stating my interaction. Also, the FDA has currently approved CBD only for a prescription epilepsy drug. This means they consider CBD a drug and not an approved ingredient for edibles (which is why you’ll see statements like “not FDA approved…” on labels). There is a bill currently being considered by Congress to address this issue.
There are several schools of thought when it comes to cannabis with chocolate. For years, it was just a carrier for getting your weed. Things started changing in 2014 when the laws started shifting. By 2018, with the Farmers Bill, hemp and CBD became nationally regulated. Some chocolate makers were ready to move full steam ahead with good ingredients, and some newly entered the market at that point. But there were still those edible makers who continued to use basic chocolate, not caring that it didn’t have good flavor.
Another side of this movement are the type of people who are the chocolatiers who include cannabis infusions. Defonce founder, Eric Eslao (a former Apple marketing executive) had a passion for cannabis and for chocolate and created a company hiring professionals from each industry. Many started out as THC & CBD enthusiasts, who learned chocolate making along the way. The next wave to come will be the craft chocolate makers getting on board with (and overcoming all the regulatory hoops) CBD and/or THC extensions of their artisanal products.
“Start low, go slow” is the advice given by Carrie Solomon, co-Founder of Greater Goods and the sister company Leif Goods. When starting out with chocolate that’s infused with THC or CBD is to start with a low dose (also known as a micro dose). Even if a chocolate bar says a dose is one piece, feel free to break that piece down! Then, give the chocolate time to digest.
Go slow. Unlike smoking (or vaping), when you ingest cannabis, edibles take time (anywhere from a half hour to four hours) for you to feel the effects. Carrie taught me that when THC is carried through your digestive system by a fat (the chocolate) it breaks down in your liver from delta-9 THC to a delta-11 THC. This means that eating chocolate infused with THC you end up with a much more potent dose. You can still get the “munchies” so make sure you have regular foods around for that!
We all know that chocolate makes us feel good (thanks theobromine!) For years the weed industry promoted THC as the chemical that gets you high. New research is starting to show the power of CBD. But did you know that cocoa and cannabis have something in common when it comes to interacting with our body? They both have chemicals and molecules that work with our internal receptors to feel bliss! There’s a lot of science behind this involving phytocannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoid systems, and anandamide (the actual bliss chemical). Check out: “Why are chocolate and cannabis so good together?” for a more in-depth look at how & why this all happens.
As a side note — I am not a doctor, so you need to check with your doctor before experimenting too much with cannabis infused chocolate. Every body reacts differently. Research has shown the chocolate enhances the effects of marijuana — so if you’re using it medicinally, then you may be able to reduce the amount of pot per dose.
“I Wonder how to conduct a tasting of different craft chocolates infused with THC and/or CBD?” I’ve learned how to taste chocolate (both on my own and through 37 Chocolates), but cannabis infused chocolate is not the same. For starters, these chocolates are more expensive — no matter where in the country you buy them. Craft chocolate you buy in regular stores often showcase whether it’s certified organic, non-GMO and where the cacao came from (country of origin). Chocolate in dispensaries usually state the volume of THC and/or CBD. The higher end chocolates seem to also state the origin and stats (ie organic, origin) of the cannabis.
Additionally, due to tight FDA regulations, there aren’t many chocolate companies that have product available in multi states. You have to depend on what you find locally. Carrie says they started Leif Goods as a THC line which included CBD. However, these products are only available in Oregon, since THC products can’t cross state lines. Carrie and her partner Jody started Greater Goods as a separate company that is CBD only (and in a different facility, so they don’t cross contaminate). Since CBD products are federally regulated, she can ship to almost every state.
The experts offer a solution
Since I don’t have a broad exposure to the craft chocolate maker world, I turned to an expert — Carla Martin, Executive Director of FCCI (Fine Cacao & Chocolate Institute), whom I met during a documentary screening at Harvard. She, in turn, introduced me to Alysha Kropf and Pam Williams of the Ecole Chocolat. Before reaching out to them, I did check out their blog entry “ Chocolate and Cannabis” and saw they have a course “ Chocolate Pakalolo “ to teach those who don’t know much about chocolate but want to learn how to make edibles (great idea if you want a jump on this trend!).
Alysha and Pam’s advice is to treat a tasting like you would a liquor. Use chocolates that have been tested multiple times for consistency and control of dosing. Lastly, limit your tasting to three small pieces.
I agree with their advice. However, what I did was to take one small dose of each chocolate at separate times. If I were serious about this, I could record all my notes about each tasting, just as a wine or chocolate sommelier would. I realized I did not choose chocolates that had parallel CBD/THC ratios. Budtenders, I discovered, are great at explaining what the effects could be like based on their cannabis knowledge, but their knowledge of chocolate (or even craft chocolate) is bare. As with any adventure, making mistakes (like learning how much is too much THC for me) is all a part of learning.
Craft Cannabis and Chocolatiers
The experts don’t know of any association or listing of chocolatiers or chocolate makers who sell cannabis infused products. They all agree the market is in its early stages, similar to the wine industry years ago. As cannabis becomes more accepted (and legal), as more people become aware of the distinctions of origins (of both cacao and cannabis), and the technology advances for making the two combine with consistency more easily, than the craft chocolate with cannabis options will grown and become available to more people.
In the meantime, here’s my short list (in no particular order, and I have not tried them all). Please comment or send me a message if you know of more to be added! I’d love to fill up with fine cannabis chocolatiers from all over the country!